Gun-Shy Candidates Fall Short of Solution

Clinton and Obama only offer sympathy and prayers for DeKalb victims.

Feb. 17, 2008— -- The deadly shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., is just the latest example of a growing problem on school campuses across the country. The issue of gun control is certain to be salient in the minds of voters in DeKalb and, for example, Blacksburg, Va., where shots killed 33 people at Virginia Tech University last April.

But so far, the Democratic presidential hopefuls have offered no solutions or preventive measures to combat this problem. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., offered his sympathies, but specified no new ideas to enforce gun control in his home state of Illinois. "I've said before, and continue to believe, that we need to do a more effective job of enforcing our gun laws," he said, speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Friday.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., offered similarly vague statements. "We just have to figure out how we are going to get smart about protecting our kids," she said.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Organization, a grassroots effort to prevent gun violence, says we need leadership from both Clinton and Obama on this issue.

But the candidates are quick to remember what happened to Al Gore in 2000. Gore lost West Virginia, in large part, because of negative ads paid for by the NRA. "I think a lot of candidates and politicians are afraid of getting the gun lobby upset," said Helmke. "They fear that talking about guns, it's gonna lose them elections." is noticeably gun shy; she lists her views on plenty of issues, but not gun control. However, she's spoken out about protecting the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms.

Obama's Web site has a link for "sportsman" with a section for "protecting gun rights." When asked about his view on the Second Amendment, Obama said, "There is individual right to bear arms, but it is subject to common sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common sense regulation."

In an effort to play to each side, both candidates have said they support the right to bear arms, but also want to enforce a level of gun control.

Hanna Siegel and David Wright contributed to this report.